The unexpected death of Rodney King, whose videotapped beating by police in 1991 sparked the deadly Los Angeles race riots, has caused the country to reflect on his legacy. King indirectly reformed policing in Los Angeles and across the country, according to the Associated Press.
After the 1992 riots, which began shortly after the officers who beat King were acquitted, then-LAPD Chief Darryl Gates was ousted and a commision recommended several reforms -- many of which became requirements when the feds took control of the department. One of the most notable was the end to the “lifetime chief” policy, which gave Los Angeles police chiefs a virtual lifetime tenure, the AP reports.
“It was his beating that made America focus on the presence of profiling and police misconduct,” Rev. Al Sharpton told the paper.
King was found dead in his pool Sunday morning. Police said that no foul play was suspected. An autopsy should determine the cause of death within two days, according to the AP.